What to do if a prospective employee filed an employment discrimination lawsuit and now there is an investigation in my name?

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What to do if a prospective employee filed an employment discrimination lawsuit and now there is an investigation in my name?

I am a manager in a company but not the owner. A person who applied for a position filed a complaint against me for discrimination based on color. The reason is that there was a delay in communicating with her because our office was moving and she thought it was because of color. We never promised her any position. However, my boss said that she can participate in some of our unpaid training, so she started to observe our classroom sessions. The State Department of Workforce Development has a case investigation in my name because she mentioned my name in her letter. Now this case is going to be dismissed if she does not respond. Does this investigation show up in my record if it’s closed? What are my options if it’s not closed?

Asked on October 29, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Wisconsin

Answers:

B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

A discrimination claim is not like a criminal offense-- so it doesn't usually show up on a routine report like a criminal background  check.  However, the complaint is with a governmental entity which could be subject to disclosure under state open record rules. 

If the case is not closed, as you hoped for, then you may want to visit with an employment law attorney to review the facts of your case.  Even though the company may bring in an attorney to "handle" the situation, you need to keep in mind that the attorney was hired to represent the company, not you.  The attorney's ethical and legal duty is to the company.  Many managers have been burned when they were sacraficed or "thrown under the bus" in an investigation -- and only realized to late that they should have at least talked to an attorney before they made any decisions on what to do.

The other thing you need to keep in mind is that if the company is sued, then you will more than likely be named as a party-- which means that the person could try to sue you in your individual capacity. 

Start planning now how you are going to respond to this complaint if it keeps moving forward.  While everything is fresh on your mind, make notes about everything you remember regarding this person.  If possible, copy what documents you can and take them home with you. Take the documents and your notes to an employment law attorny.  Arming the attorney with information now will make if more easy for them to react if/when things go forward.

This may seem like a little over-prep since the person appears to be non-reponsive to their own complaint.  But considering that this is your career and your life, a little pre-planning is a minor price for peace of mind. 


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